SALEM -- The Polk County Itemizer-Observer was presented the Elmo Smith Award of General Excellence Friday, July 16, by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.
The award is the highest annual recognition given to a weekly newspaper in Oregon.
The recognition comes on the heels of the Itemizer-Observer winning the general excellence award presented in May by the Oregon and Southwest Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
"We are truly honored and blessed to receive the award," said I-O Publisher Nancy Adams. "We are proud to serve the communities we represent, and those communities benefit from the talents of our staff. It was nice for them to be recognized."
The honor was one of 13 awards presented to the Itemizer-Observer during the ONPA's 2010 Better Newspaper Contest. Awards were presented during ONPA's annual Summer Publisher's Convention, held July 15-16 at the Salem Convention Center.
The Itemizer-Observer, competing in the large weekly division for Oregon newspapers with a circulation of more than 3,501, won two first-place awards in the ONPA contest:
* Reporter Craig Coleman placed first in the "Best Spot News" category for his coverage of the funeral of Monmouth's Taylor Marks, who was killed in 2009 while serving in Iraq.
* Photographer Adam Korst received first place in "Best Graphics" for an illustration titled "End of an Era," related to the Weyerhaeuser mill closing in Dallas.
The Itemizer-Observer received four second-place awards: Coleman took second in the "Best Sports Story" category for his piece on budget cuts to the Central School District athletic program; Kurt Holland placed second in "Best Editorial Writing;" the I-O staff received second place for "Best Editorial Page;" and Korst received second place awards in "Best Headline Writing" and "Best News Photo."
The I-O also earned four third-place awards: Coleman received third in "Best Educational Coverage," "Best Writing" and "Best Spot News Coverage;" Korst and former I-O reporter Jillian Beaudry took third in "Best Lifestyle Coverage" for a feature on the Friday night acoustic music jam sessions at Guthrie Park Community Center; and the I-O staff received third place for "Best Web Design"
The 13 awards is the most the Itemizer-Observer has received in one year from the Better Newspaper Contest since 2001.
Entries for the contest were published during the 2009 calendar year.